Print Politics

Writing Good Print Copy

Obama Campaign Slogan Analysis

Let's talk about copy writing. Most printed materials contain some copy. Not too much, because no one will read it, but enough to get the message across fast, and in such a way that it becomes indelibly burned into the collective consciousness.

Whether you're engaged in the marketing of a product or service, or in a political campaign, the rules of good copy writing are essentially the same: be fresh and surprising, or expect the average consumer/voter to look right through your print collateral.

In the wake of the PA primary, and perhaps, inspired by Earth Day, the Barack Obama Presidential campaign has begun to churn out some fresh copy that dares voters to pay attention. During a speech today in Indianapolis, Obama took on the issue of the energy crisis, his podium fronted by a sign reading “Investing in Energy Independence.”

This slogan defines the nature of nice print copy. Essentially, it tackles a sensitive issue – the rising cost of fuel – and makes it palatable to just about everyone. Here's how:

  • By using the term “investing” to describe Obama's engagement with the issue, the slogan promises that getting away from dependence on oil won't hurt the economy or threaten anyone's job.
  • By using the term “energy,” the slogan avoids negative buzzwords like “oil,” “gas,” and “fuel,” while hearkening back to a simpler time when the idea of “energy” was synonymous with progress and a bright future.
  • By using the term “independence,” the slogan evokes national pride, as if freeing ourselves from a dependence on oil will be like a kind of second coming of American freedom a la Declaration of Independence.
  • Thus, the Obama campaign takes a hot-button point and transforms it into a positive project that the whole country can participate in, and all through a print design with deceptively simple copy.

    The point? When developing a short slogan for print design, always carefully consider every possible connotation that can be found in each word that you're using. This level of attention to detail has immeasurable value, and is never a waste of time.


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